Sa, 2.12.2023

«You're next...»

Irina Kablukova
, Den za Dnjom
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Photo: Liis Treimann

In one month, two houses and business premises have been torched in Tallinn and Harju County. The victims are convinced this is the doing of a one-time mutual friend. 

While the fires were covered by the media, what no-one mentioned was that victims of all three instances were well acquainted and two of the men even relatives. And that all three were quarreling with one and the same individual whom they now suspect in the arsons. Also, they fear the serial acts of revenge will continue.

Among the victims, Oleg Jeržanov addressed editors of Den za Dnjom, writing: «Please help! Since June I am being terrorised by a person who sends threatening SMS messages and e-mails. We had recourse to police who said let us know is someone is killed! At the end of August, the individual set fire to our house in Viimsi. Thereafter, the home of our relatives was torched, and after that the production facilities of a mutual acquaintance of ours. We fear for the lives of ourselves and of our families. The police isn’t doing anything!»

-Incident No 1

In the night of August 22nd, the house of Mr  Jeržanov was kindled where he lived with his pregnant wife. He heard of the incident from police. «We were visiting parents at Ida-Virumaa. In the middle of the night they called from the police saying we had a fire at home,» recalls Mr Jeržanov.

Arriving home next morning to count the damage, he was convinced it was arson. There were two pockets of fire. The outer wall had caught flame. Visibly, it had been drenched with some burning liquid. Also, a sofa had caught fire, with a window broken near it.

Mr Jeržanov repeatedly informed the police of who he suspected in the arson. He had to report the same individual again on September 13th as the next fire was kindled.

-Incident No 2

On September 13th a shooting range building in Tondi, Tallinn caught fire. The facilities are linked to a company owned by Mr Jeržanov, a cousin of his, and Sergei Vort. Mr Vort said a switchboard was destroyed in the fire, and the shooting range walls were damaged by the smoke. While expert assessment is pending, the victim says short circuit is excluded. He had recourse to police the day after and told them of his assumptions regarding the cause of the fire.

-Incident No 3

It was three days till the next fire. While the former incidents happened in facilities with no people in them, this time the lives of four were in danger, including two children.

«It was half past five in the morning. Me, my wife and two daughters were asleep. I was awakened by my wife saying she thought the house was on fire! I ran outside, looked around the corner and saw a woodpile in flames at the wall of boiled house attached to the home,» said Deniss Koštšejev, cousin to Mr Jeržanov.

He tried to put out the fire and realised he was not managing alone. He took his wife and children to neighbours. In the meantime, fire brigade arrived and started to put out the fire that by then had caught the roof. Mr Koštšejev said there was not much left of the house.

-Suspect known

All three victims of fire are suspecting one and the same man with whom they are all quarrelling for various reasons. In summer, Mr Jeržanov failed to find agreement with him who owes whom and how much. The quarrel continued with angry text messages and e-mails in which it was threatened to set Mr Jeržanov’s house on fire. Threat letters were also sent to his father, in whose name application was filed to the police.

«The police remained inactive. Meanwhile, we kept receiving new threat letters,» said Mr Jeržanov. It was also promised to set fire to his father’s home in Ida-Virumaa, and the house where Mr Vort lived with his wife and child.

Thus, all they felt they had left to do was tell the media as the suspected arsonist is still at liberty and, as assessed by the victims, the police has done nothing much to protect their lives and property.

-The slow wheels of Justice

The newspaper asked for a comment by prosecutors. Northern prosecutor’s office media adviser Kaarel Kallas said a criminal procedure has been initiated regarding the cases described pursuant to a clause citing arson. Prior to that, the victims had told the newspaper that after prolonged entreaties the three criminal episodes were merged into a single criminal case. Which in turn meant that only one investigator is dealing with the three incidents.

Opting not to answer the question why police failed to react to the initial application by Mr Jeržanov’s father, Mr Kallas assured us that with investigations now in full swing they are unable to share more information at the moment.